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Another lovey-dovey scene between MC and Etna.
And it’s quite long chapter.
Chapter 172: Former Hero – Deciding
And just like that, we safely reached our destination: the unicorn forest.
I covered the area around the carriage with earth bind and hid it quite easily.
Nothing much can be done against it now so I won’t have to worry.
In addition to that, I also brought enough food for a week.
Not that I think the hunt will last that long, but better safe than sorry.
I also packed many other things, so it’s quite heavy.
However, it’s still nothing compared to the carriage.
Carrying a huge backpack, I walked into the forest.
The forest itself is wafting with mysterious air.
The tall trees created a canopy that prevented most of the sunlight from getting in, but what managed to enter created a fantastic atmosphere to the otherwise foggy forest.
Also, there’s no sign of animals at all.
It may have been possible to find one if I searched thoroughly, but I couldn’t even hear a bird’s chirping. Only eerie silence coupled with the vain sound of water.
[…pardon me Haruto-kun for making you wait.]
After listening to my surroundings for a while, I heard Etna-san coming back. She brought some flowers with her and for some reason, she had a slight blush on her face.
Although there’s no sign of living creatures in this forest, it’s still my responsibility to be vigilant and listen to wherever she’s going. Even if only for a short while.
As a result, even if there are situations when I shouldn’t have listened to…. Meh, I’m just making up excuses now.
I got a little too excited there. Yep. I’m a pervert.
[Nah. It’s alright.]
After replying to Etna-san, I picked up the luggage I had placed down before.
This is a very quiet forest. The only thing watching Etna-san doing her deed is probably rocks.
If she gets embarrassed just because I’m also here, that will only make me feel awkwardly excited.
Clear your mind, clear your mind.
[Yosh, let’s hurry before it gets dark.]
Etna-san and I continued deeper into the forest.
We proceeded through the forest for about an hour.
Thanks to the《Search》skill, we won’t have to worry about getting lost.
I took the front in order to open up a path so that Etna-san can walk without much trouble. Eventually we arrived on a clearing.
There’s a small lake in the middle of this clearing.
Even if I said small, the lake was about 100m in width.
If only there’s a swan boat, this would be a spot where I would want to spend time alone with Etna-san to enjoy the scenery and atmosphere.
[Oh, what a nice view.]
[Indeed. It still has not changed at all since the last time I saw it.]
[You’ve been here before?]
[Yes. Normally it is off-limits, but father brought me here when I was a child once. The scenery is still the same as I remember it.]
Etna-san looked at the lake nostalgically.
Creating a picture-perfect scene of a beautiful woman standing at the edge of a lake.
Anyhow, it’s a splendid scene.
If I saw such a scene when I was a kid, I would probably remember it my whole life too.
In any case, it’s not the time to slack.
We need to get ready since the sun is about to set.
The sky had become red as the sun slowly went down.
In a hurry, I took out the tent from my luggage and set it up.
In addition to the tent, I also created a simple structure using earth bind, making a little cottage-sized building. No, calling it a cottage is an overstatement. More like a prefabricated hut? Well, anyway, it’s a simple temporary residence.
It is my and Etna-san’s new house. Fufufu. I let my mind wander wildly again.
Anyways, the sun went down and the sky turned dark in the meantime.
[What should I do, Haruto-kun? Should we prepare for our encounter with Unicorn-san?]
After dinner, Etna worriedly talked to me as I was preparing to sleep in my tent.
[Well… uh, hmm … yes. It’s better to do it …now?]
[Of course. It is our reason to come here after all… so let us prepare!]
Despite my rather unenthusiastic reply, Etna-san was not bothered at all and rushed out to start the preparation anyway.
The preparation in this case is actually preparing me for the encounter.
As for Etna-san, all she’ll need to do is actually just stand around prettily.
[Alright, Haruto-kun. It might be a little cold, but please take it off.]
Etna-san returned to me with a woman’s dress and perfume in hand.
The so-called ‘preparation’ is to dress me up like a girl to trick the unicorn.
Why are your eyes glittering brightly like that?
But at least I get to see a different side of Etna-san. Ehehe.
Alright, I made my temporary escape from reality.
Because the reality that was waiting for me here could probably make any man embarrassed.
That said, it’s not like I can say [I quit] after coming this far.
Let’s begin the preparations.
I took off my jacket and shirt.
Whoa, it’s cold. Hopefully it won’t get any colder. Though it’s not too unbearable for me.
[Wow. as expected, Haruto-kun, you have a very well toned body]
Etna-san praised me after seeing my shirtless body.
Seeing her inspecting my body so intently, naturally various kinds of emotion sprang up in me.
[Is, is that so? I thought I’m far from being the muscle guy type though?]
Like the macho man type I suppose?
[Nnー….. like my father, he is too bouncy in comparison.]
Etna-san said while looking at my nakedness.
That said, she compared me with old man Rov? That’s it. I got it now.
Etna-san, so you have never seen another guy naked in front of you before? Guhehe.
She should’ve seen a lot of muscled adventurers before, but I’m the first to be seen by her in all my naked gloriousness. Ehehe.
I mean, does that even mean anything?
[I, is that so? Thank you, I guess?]
I don’t know how to respond to such a compliment so I ended up thanking her instead.
[Fufu. Oh, pardon me. It is cold, is it not? Then let us finish up quickly. Alright, please apply this.]
Etna-san laughed and handed me a vial of liquid.
This is… perfume.
The old man did say that I need to apply some perfume for the trick.
But I only became more confused upon seeing the perfume in my hand.
How exactly do I use this?
In my knowledge, all I need to do to use a perfume is just open the lid then spray it on my body. But this perfume is clearly just a vial containing liquid perfume.
Seeing me acting clueless, Etna-san tilted her head.
[What should I do with this?]
[Eh? Ah, of course. Haruto-kun is a man after all.]
Etna-san approached the clueless me.
She took the perfume from me, opened the lid, dripped a few drops on her hands and spread it with her fingertips.
[It might be a little cold, but please bear with it.]
After giving me a gentle warning, Etna-san’s fingertip touched my neck.
It’s certainly a little chilly.
Under tonight’s cold temperature, even Etna-san’s fingers had become slightly cold.
And then, her fingertip trailed toward the nape of my neck.
But not because it’s cold.
Because her fingertips were trailing down my neck with such a feathery touch, it sent indescribable pleasures all over my body.
I managed to prevent myself from leaking any voice, but for a moment, I thought my feet had turned into jelly.
Such a terrifying destructive power.
However, Etna-san’s perfume application didn’t stop there.
Even after the nape of the neck is finished, it extends to the chest, flanks, shoulders and arms; basically my whole upper body.
Does the perfume need to be applied that thoroughly?
Nah, I don’t care about that.
Everytime Etna-san’s fingertips touched my body, it sent shivers down my spine.
As a result, my lower body naturally started to act up.
Etna-san applied the perfume for me in good faith.
I shouldn’t be aroused by it.
So calm down, calm down.
Don’t let Etna-san notice it.
[Ermm… Haruto-kun? If you do not stand properly, it will be hard for me to apply the perfume…]
Etna-san complained at me who leaned my body forward in the attempt to hide something.
Uu… I’m sorry.
It’s completely standing stiffly upright now.
Oh, upright was a lie. It’s slightly to the left as usual… ah, what am I talking about. Just calm down already.
[S, sorry. It’s just a bit cold after all?]
I tried to make an excuse that may sound convincing for the situation.
[Oh, of course. Forgive me. Your back is the only spot left where I need to apply. So can you please look away?]
Etna-san seemed to buy my excuse. She even apologized to me.
Ah, I’m really sorry.
But now, I feel like it’s a shame that all that’s left is my back.
If I had to turn myself away, I wouldn’t be able to see Etna-san.
When I was about to turn myself around, I heard Etna-san’s yell.
I saw her stop moving.
And her line of sight, it was obviously going downward.
I already turned around in a hurry, but was it too late?
I pretended to not notice, but I’m sure she noticed the bulge.
What a mess…
After that, Etna-san didn’t say anything and just silently applied the perfume on my back.
I was looking away, so I don’t know what kind of expression she had right now…
By the time she’s finished applying the perfume, Etna-san has returned to her usual self.
Since she didn’t bring it up, I’d just consider it as there’s still nothing between us for the time being.
No, I’m really sorry.
Later that night, I enjoyed chatting with Etna-san for a bit.
Etna-san would listen to my stories with sparkling eyes, and she’s generally fun to talk with.
A good listener.
I would like to know more about Etna-san, but for now let’s just talk about my heroic feats so that it will not become too awkward.
[It’s getting colder, isn’t it?]
When I noticed, Etna-san was trembling ever so slightly under the wrap of a blanket.
It’s a tent without a heater after all. Who knows how cold it would be during a rainy day.
Not to mention the natural cold of night.
And it’s not like we can light a bonfire inside the tent…
I replied as I looked at my watch.
I have nothing to do, but it’s still too early to go to bed…
Then what should we do?
In this kind of situation, the best would be to share our body warmth…
No, I may want to do it, but can I really say that to Etna-san?
Also, if I happen to go beyond that, wouldn’t it ruin our best bet in capturing the unicorn?
Nonono, what kind of awkward face would I make tomorrow if she declined my offer then?
But this is such a fitting situation.
If I don’t seize the chance now, will an opportunity like this ever come again?
Yosh, a man should be courageous, even if he’s currently wearing women’s clothing.
Etna-san should be okay with it. With such a wishful thinking in mind, I decided to ask Etna-san.
[Oh, that’s right. Etna-san? Ermm… how about you come closer to me? If we stack our blankets together, wouldn’t it be warmer?]
I said that as if I came up with the idea spontaneously.
Well, I don’t have any evil intentions. Just pretending to have a good one.
Actually, it has been completely simulated in my brain since I accepted this mission back in the city of Verde.
I’m neither a scammer nor a bad man. By all means.
Etna-san replied while looking back at me blankly, probably surprised by the unexpected offer.
H, how is it?
Is it more blatantly obvious now?
No, I made sure to pass it off as something spontaneous.
So I’m sure it’s okay. Is there a problem?
[Nn… well, true. It does look like it will be warmer!]
After looking troubled for a short while, Etna-san finally clasped her hands.
Hooray. I did it!
As Etna-san sat next to me, I did a guts pose in my heart.
Then I wrapped her with my blanket.
Ah, now, it’s almost like I’ve become one with Etna-san.
Words cannot describe how happy I am. I really am a pervert.
[Certainly, it is a lot warmer by doing this.]
Etna-san leaned against my shoulder.
It’s only natural, Etna-san. The shoulder you’re leaning on has been building up warmness. It’s hot even now.
Since the forest was so quiet, my ears were able to catch not only the sound of Etna-san’s sigh, but also her heartbeat.
Uwaaa, hot damn.
My heart can’t stop pounding fiercely.
It should be okay to grab her hand, right?
Let’s do it. Maybe I could make it.
When I decided again and tried to reach out to Etna-san’s hand――
When I previously could only hear Etna-san’s heartbeat, now I could also hear the echoing sound of heavy hooves.
A, are you kidding me.
There’s no way we would come across one already on the very first day, right?
Read the atmosphere please, unicorn.